Sunday, the men and women who produce the Enquirer-Journal lost a family member.
For the Enquirer-Journal staff and many in the Monroe community, Jim Muldrow was family.
Anyone who worked at the Enquirer-Journal in the last 25 years knew Jim. He started as a sports reporter in 1980, and moved up to sports editor in 1984. Five years later, he was promoted to news editor, a job he kept until December 2009.
Even well after he left to take a job with South Piedmont Community College, he stopped by the newspaper office regularly to catch up. Hang around the newsroom long enough, and you will hear many stories about Jim getting a paper out when the weather, the press, modern technology and fate itself conspired against him.
Sunday, Jim lost a long fight with cancer. He was diagnosed in 2009. After treatment and surgery, it went into remission. When it returned and treatment failed to slow its spread, Jim said his goodbyes.
"I just want all of you to know that I am at peace with this news and it was not totally unexpected. I just had a feeling for some time that this was the way things were headed." Jim wrote in his last Caring Bridge journal entry on Dec. 26. "I have had a good life. I’ve been able to go places, meet people and do things that a lot of people only dream about."
Not long after the news of his death began circulating around social media, old friends and coworkers began leaving their goodbyes on Jim's Facebook page.
Luanne Williams: "Jim was my encourager, my mentor and my right arm at The E-J from 1986 to 2003 as I went from part-time staff writer to managing editor. He was also a wonderful friend who kept in touch, remembered birthdays, commiserated when times were tough and rejoiced when we got it right. He was the newsroom's AP Style guru and the most dependable co-worker ever. Whether it was climbing on top of The E-J to clean snow off the satellite dish so we could get the AP feed or plowing through reams of copy to put together the annual Progress edition, if it was on Jim's list, it got done and it got done well. I can't begin to imagine the number of lives he touched — years of covering sports, coaching cub reporters, training other editors and representing the newspaper at everything from United Way meetings to Community Spelling Bees, not to mention his more recent work at SPCC. Bottom line, whatever Jim did, he cared enough to do it right. I truly can't imagine Monroe without him. I look forward to seeing many of you this week as we celebrate Jim's life and what he meant to all of us."
Cayla Lockhart: "I still think of Jim everytime i read my fortune cookie. Anyone who has ever eaten Chinese with Jim will understand. Rest peacefully, Jim Muldrow."
Randall Hill: "Jim was the Sports Editor when I was there in the 1980s. He was always helpful and pleasant to work with. I was so green because it was my first job out of school and he did a lot to help me learn. Years later, we reconnected via (Facebook) and he was always the first to acknowledge my work he viewed over the web. RIP Jim."
Melanie Ballard: "The first April Fool's day I worked at the E-J, Jim handed me one of those pink "while you were out" messages with a number for a Mr. Lyon on it. I went right to my desk and returned the call. It was the number for the N.C. Zoo. I am glad Jim's fight is over but so sorry for the loss Cheryl and his family are suffering."
Billy Ball: "I remember that every time the ridiculously high stack of papers at my EJ desk collapsed onto the ground—it was multiple times, I assure you—Jim would dutifully and silently help me clean them up. I'll also remember his chair flying behind him when he stomped off if his Tar Heels or Braves were blowing it. He was a good guy and a lot of fun to work with, I will miss him."
Wendy Angel: "I'll forever be grateful for what Jim taught me when I was at the E-J in what was my first journalism internship. Always kind, with a quick quiet wit, and with a load of patience for such a newbie like I was. I'll never forget him."
Eddie Yandle: "After the Ashcrafts, Jim WAS the Enquirer-Journal as far as I was concerned. Being 3.3K miles away, it's going to be hard to be physically there, but Cheryl & colleagues, be very clear that our hearts & thoughts are with you."
Matt McKenzie: "The Enquirer-Journal was my first job out of college and Jim Muldrow was my first editor. He taught me so much about journalism and what it means to be a good reporter and editor. I'll never forget that and I cherish all those late nights in the newsroom. Godspeed Jim, thank you for everything and my prayers and thoughts are out to your family and loved ones."
Elisabeth Arriero: "RIP Jim. You were such an influential part of my early career and - really - early adulthood.
I remember one time when I told you I was changing my major from journalism to political science, you drove up from Monroe to Chapel Hill to give me a tour of the J-School and tell me why a journalism degree would ultimately help me more. Ha. I changed my major back to journalism soon after that.
You were a humble man who hardly ever made yourself the center of attention but just with your thoughtful advice, kind words and witty humor, you had a huge impact on so many lives. I'll miss you Jimmy. : ("